The Power of Trust, Resilience and Authenticity

At Leading Edge, we work with clients building skills such as trust, resilience and authenticity. This weekend I had the chance to practise what I preach – and let me tell you, it took everything in my toolkit!

When we’re not running programs, our horses (and their humans) enjoy a bit of show jumping and other equestrian pursuits. Having taken up riding as an adult, it’s a new sport for me and I just love it! However, since my baby boy was born, I’ve been feeling a new level of fear while riding. You know the kind that shuts down your brain and switches off all rational thought? Yep. That kind.

Now as you can imagine, this kind of fear is not very helpful in a show jumping ring! Such a dilemma when I know, rationally, that just on the other side of those nerves is the elation and joy I feel participating in a sport I love.

Fast forward to Saturday. I’m at my first competition post baby and about to compete. Into the ring I go. Cue fear, and suddenly the jumps in front of me start to look like two storey buses! Fear takes over and while I’m busy trying to put on a brave face, everything about my body language is telling my horse (our lovely Bart) how I’m really feeling.

How does he know?

As prey animals horses have incredibly astute senses. Bart knows exactly how I’m feeling. More importantly, he senses the incongruence between my external ‘brave face’ and my internal ‘true’ state. As a herd animal, he is ultimately looking for the same thing that we as humans look for from the ‘herds’ in our life. We want to feel safe. As we talk about so often in our programs, in order to feel this he needs trust, leadership and open, honest communication.

Back to the arena…

Without any of the key ingredients above, neither Bart or I can move forward. We stumble over a couple of jumps before we stop. Out of the ring we go and the stored up fear comes out in a flood of tears. As I have a little cry (yes, right there in the middle of the horse competition!), Bart takes a huge breath out. I’m sure in that moment he was thinking ‘finally – an honest acknowledgement of how she’s actually feeling!’. Again, as we see so often in our programs, being authentic in this way is what both Bart and I need to release and ground ourselves again.

Now comes the hard part…

Do I let that fear take over and never ride again (“you’re the mother of a small child – that is a very sensible thought”, says my reptilian brain), or do I come back the next day and give it another shot? Thanks to the work we do with clients, I chose the latter. I reminded myself that I trust my equine partner, my coach, and importantly, myself. That it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, the important part is simply showing up and having a go.

Into the arena we go on day two of competition. With some trust and authenticity onboard, what a different outcome we had. Bart sailed over the jumps and we won the class! I had the time of my life!

True, it doesn’t always end with ribbons (though lets face it, it’s great when it does!), but I’m grateful to be reminded of two very important life lessons in all of this. Firstly, you’re never to old to live out your childhood dreams(!) and secondly, real trust (with humans and horses) can be built by facing your fear and doing it anyway!

Have you had a similar experience?  How have trust, authenticity and resilience shown up in your life? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments. And to subscribe to more updates and leadership tips from Leading Edge Life Skills, please comment below to ask to be added or email

Posted by Alice Field, Senior Facilitator and Associate Instructor